|FLOWER ESSENCE THERAPIES
And WESTERN HERBAL MEDICINE
Dr. Christina Chambreau
ESSEX COMMUNITY COLLEGE
VETERINARY TECHNICIAN PROGRAM
Flower essence therapy is one of the first treatment choices for you to try with your animals, to use in the veterinary clinic and to coach clients who ask for other options. They are a 100% safe, effective and natural way to help animal companions lead healthier and happier lives. While homeopathy can sometimes harm an animal and acupuncture needles are best used by well trained professionals, flower essences are totally safe and you can offer them to your boss for use in the practice. I strongly recommend studying and trying different essences from different companies.
The philosophy behind Flower Essences was developed by Dr. Edward Bach, an English homeopathic physician who gave up his busy practice to study and prepare the 38 Flower Essences known as the Bach Flowers or English Flower Essences. There are now many producers of flower essences. Some are made as Bach did, by putting the petals in water and exposing them to sunlight. Others are made in intuitive ways. Others are made of many different substances (Perelandra has viral, fungal and bacterial) that are also so dilute they can cause no harm.
In our animal companions, Flower Essences have their greatest benefit in the treatment of emotional or behavioral problems, yet can also directly help physical problems – like fleas and ticks.
Flower Essences are very helpful for working with injured or captive wildlife as you can mist them or offer the essences in water – no need to handle the animals to treat effectively.
Dr. Bach was a deeply religious man whose spirituality was reflected in his work. He believed that each of us has a divine mission on earth that can be discerned through listening to our own instincts, wishes, thoughts, and desires. He also believed that all disease is the result of disharmony between the soul and the mind. There are many ways for people to heal this disharmony ranging from meditation to psychotherapy. But wait – how does an animal have disharmony between mind and soul and body?
Yep, you guessed it – they live with people. People put animals in our environments, away from their family and other members of their species. They have to adjust their schedule (cats are usually nocturnal) to ours. Certainly, we are not being mean or arbitrary when we insist that our animal companion use the litter box or refrain from biting, scratching, bucking, or flying out the window. Our animal companions must make these accommodations in order to share our lives. We are not responsible for all of an animal’s disharmony that is healed so beautifully with flower essences. I know there are energetic patterns that occur between animals – fear in a deer when chased by a wolf, for instance. And they live on a planet where we have weakened them with pollution, energy disruptions and negative vibrations.
Animals can manifest behavioral and physical problems that have their roots in emotional trauma. One explanation for the success of the essences is that they correct underlying negative emotional states by "flooding" the patient with the positive quality needed. For example, the essence of Holly is love. You could use Holly in any situation where there is a lack of love, such as anger, jealousy or rage. Similarly, the essence of Rock Rose is courage: it is used in cases of deep fears, panic, and terror.
While flower essences are focused on the emotional body, I know they really are healing the imbalance in the underlying energetic balance of the body with their gentle energies. They carry the positive energy of the glitch in the energy field, so over time, the positive emotions are encouraged and behavior problems resolve.
The reason I strongly recommend using Flower Essences is they are one of the few modalities that is totally safe (as are other energy techniques such as Reiki, Healing Touch, Massage, T-Touch), easy to prescribe and can be given for long times. They do not interfere with other treatments. They cannot be overused or misused. Unlike homeopathy where the search is for the single matching remedy, you can give more than one flower essence at a time. Wrong essences simply have no effect. This allows us to use Flower Essences in food and bowls of water, even when several animals share them. They can be applied topically or used in a spray bottle to infuse a problem area (carrier, car, room, cage, trailer or stall). Do an experiment with one of the essences and spray the exam rooms after every animal for a week. Are the animals calmer?
I suggest putting each of the essences you select (single or combination ones) into a bowl separate from the water bowl and letting your cherished pet choose which ones she needs the most. Then you can combine them and put into one water bowl. Always leave one untreated water bowl so they will not be deprived of water. Clients love to be part of choosing the flower essences and noticing if their animals drink them.
In most cases, one course of treatment of up to 6 weeks (rarely for life) will be needed. The more frequently you give the essences in a day, the better the action (at least 4 times a day, including meals). Usually improvement is seen within the first two weeks of treatment.
Flower essences are readily available from health food stores or the internet, and with a little study from one of the many excellent books on the subject, it is a fairly simple matter to create your own formulas for particular problems you see in your practice or shelter. The following is a list of many web sites that carry the different formulations.
Which company to choose?
I find the Bach essences the easiest to prescribe individual remedies since there are only 38 to learn. Other companies are producing hundreds of different essences that can much more closely match the behavior you need to help. Many of them, though, make combinations for specific animal problems (Spraying, Abuse, Fear, Aggression, Flow flee, Flee Free, Vaccination Detox, Para-Outta-Site for a few) that are therefore very easy to use or to suggest to clients. I have many favorite companies.
Spirit Essences are made by Dr. Jean Hofve. She has made a wonderful array of flower essences and combined many of the following for specific animal problems. Her Teton line is channeled from the plants – no part was even picked. Especially useful are the Vaccine Detox, Para-Outta-Site, and UR fine. Jackson does behavior, nutritional and holistic counseling and has a great newsletter that teaches essences. Spirit Essences can be ordered at http://christinachambreau.com/product-overviews.
Molly of Green Hope Farms Flower Essences is led by the devas and flower spirits to grow certain flowers on her New Hampshire Farm, or to go elsewhere to collect specific plants. She has over 150 different essences listed in a wonderful catalog. Recently she has created specific combinations for animals including Anxiety, New Beginnings, Senior Citizen, Spraying and Transition. Many of my clients have had good success with her Flee Free to prevent fleas and sometimes ticks. It works wonderfully for my cats. 603-469-3662 http://christinachambreau.com/product-overviews
Perelandra Flower Essences are part of an entire philosophy of co-creative living channeled by Maechelle Small Wright. Use her Microbial balancing, her Medical Assistance Program, her soil balancing techniques along with her flower essences and see all aspects of your life and that of your animals improve by leaps and bounds. I love her perspective on our planet and how to live and run our businesses in partnership with Nature. www.perelandra-ltd.com, 540-937-2153
Living Tree Orchid Essences are raised in greenhouses on an island, Gigha, in the southwest of Scotland. Their book, Orchid Essence Healing, is full of beautiful photos of whales, orchids, islands and people. While they do not have animal specific essences, some of their essences are great to help your business thrive (Positive Flow) and increase joy (Heart of Light). Their site is www.Healinforchids.com and they can be ordered in the United States at www.SouthernHerb.com (800-795-0338)
Anaflora flower essences and flower essence formulas made just for animals are produced by Sharon Callahan who is an animal communicator and leading pioneer in the use of flower essences in the treatment of animals. http://www.Anaflora.com
California Flower Essences (1970) were the next to be developed and tested after the original Bach remedies and there are over 200 of them from which to select. Richard Katz and Patricia Kaminski also present a lot of educational material about essences and direct the Flower Essence Society. www.floweressence.com 800-548-0075
Delta Garden Essences – Dr. Jensen (an excellent veterinarian using essences) really likes these. Deltagardens.com (978) 463-3344
Pegasus Products have over 1200 essences. PegasusProducts.com800-527-6104
Flower Vision Research (does not have their own line, but provides educational workshops, books and sells other companies essences. www.flowervr.com
Australian Bush Flower Essences developed by Ian White. ausflowers.com.au
Alaskan Flower Essences developed by Steve Johnson alaskanessences.com
Ladyslipper.com – Georgia
Using Bach Flower Rescue Remedy
There is a combination of 5 Bach essences called Rescue Remedy that is readily available at health food stores, pet stores and even some regular drug and grocery stores. It is effective when people and animals need to be “rescued” – mentally, emotionally or physically. It is very cheap to use. Please try it in many different ways.
Spray the exam room after each appointment (4 drops in a pint spray bottle) for a week and see if there is a difference in patient behavior (and client behavior).
Put 4 drops into one ounce of water and put a few drops in the cage (on the blanket), or rub on the ear of animals in surgical recovery, or give orally (with veterinary permission).
Put 10 drops in a cup of water to bathe any itchy or raw skin areas.
Take a few drops in a glass of water when you are stressed.
Put a few drops in any open bowl of water in your home, school or clinic (vase of flowers, for example).
Suggest (with veterinary approval) clients with seizuring animals try giving a few drops (rub on the ear) or spray. I have seen it shorten seizures dramatically (30 minutes to 2 minutes).
As Greg Tilford, author of All You Ever Wanted to Know About Herbs for Pets says, "Herbs and animals have lived together for a long, long time. Millions of years before the first human walked the earth, creatures…were using plants as their primary source of healing. ….humans learned through observation of wild animals and their instinctive use of plants."
From chapter19 of Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine, Principles and Practice, edited by Susan Wynn and Allen Schoen, we learn that the data base of medicinal plants of the world has over 80,000 entries. And chapter 20 gives more history. Over 5,000 years ago the Sumerians used herbs. 2700 BC is the first herbal medicine book. The Old Testament refers to healing herbs. 300 BC Hippocrates (whom Hahnemann studied extensively) believed the body could heal itself (Hahnemann disagreed with this) with the use of good diet, exercise, rest and simple herbs. 50 AD Dioscorides wrote a popular medical materia medica of herbs that was used in Europe by medical doctors for centuries. Galen, 130 AD, wrote the herbal text De Simplicibus and prescribed large dosages of plant mixtures. William Withering isolated foxglove's active ingredients used to treat heart problems - digitoxin and dioxin. From that point on we had herbal medicine, thinking the best use is the entire plant material (flower or stem or root) and the orthodox medical practitioners thinking to was better to use the extraction. "Western herbalism has a prominent and resurgent position in modern medicine. As of 1988, 30- 40% of all medical doctors in France and Germany relied on herbal preparations as their main medicines.
The first verbal veterinary herbal records are for Chinese herbs (1766 - 1027 BC) and the first written herbal veterinary books are from 618-907 AD.
Juliette de Bairacli Levy, an incredible animal herbalist who recently died at around 100 years of age, studied the works of Paracelsus, a swiss physician and alchemist, (1500 AD) who urged his students to travel in search of medical knowledge and experience. He learned a lot from the gypsies and Juliette spent many years learning from the gypsies. The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and the Cat. Paracelsus was able to cure kings and queens of previously incurable diseases. She has used herbs to cure distemper, parvovirus, mange, parasites and more.
A new science, zoopharmacognosy, investigates how animals use plants to heal themselves so that we can better use plants to heal the modern day diseases. Rodrigues and Wrangham have found that (Tilford, pg 6) apes can select the exact amount of a plant to expel parasites without causing toxicity. One rush for studying plants and what they can do is that 29% of 16,000 plant species in North America alone are facing extinction and in the rain forest the numbers are even larger.
As you can see from the history above, every country has used herbs for healing for people and animals though the centuries. The 3 herbal categories that are commonly used today, sometimes in combination are:
1. India - Ayurvedic Medicine for 5,000 or more years.
2. China - Herbs used as part of Traditional Chinese medicine for 7,000 years.
3. Europe, North America - Western Herbalism or Botanical Medicine
4. South and Latin America - Amazon rain forest herbs (like the VetriScience Flea and Tick spray)
In this talk we will primarily address Western Herbalism, with some combinations.
Several keys to herbs:
They are slower acting than homeopathy, acupuncture or drugs.
They can be used to merely treat the symptoms - eyewash, ear cleaner, antidiarrheal, etc. The benefit over drugs would be that there is often some general improvement in health and fewer side effects.
They can be used, along with diet and environmental treatments, to address the underlying causes of chronic problems.
How much of an herb, what form to use and how long to give will vary from animal to animal. It is always best to start with a small amount and then increase the amount. You can use a proportionate amount that a human would get - 1/5 human dose (based on 150 pounds) for a 30 pound dog. When giving herbs or more than a week, it is good to give for five days, stop for 2 days and then 5 days, etc. Wynn's book gives specific dosages for carnivores and herbivores.
Quality and source of herbs is under your control. Always ask where the herbs came from. I prefer organically raised or sustainably wild crafted (picked in the wild in a way that allows for new plants to keep growing). When there is a choice between using a sustainably raised plant or destroying a tree, try the more environmentally sound one first. An example of this is to choose Marshmallow root over Slippery Elm Tree bark as marshmallow is a plant that grows every year. Processing and shipping need to be appropriate to the herbal preparation (refrigeration, dark bottles, etc). The best is to know which companies are trustworthy and purchase from them.
Herbs come in many different forms - fresh from your yard or a local organic farm, bulk powder, teas, capsules, tablets, alcoholic tinctures, glycerin extracts, water infusions, ointments or lotions. You can make decoctions (a gentle simmering for 15 minutes), oil infusions (cover an herb with olive oil and let steep for a month, then press out the oil and store in the fridge), poultices (mashing a plant with oil or water to make a paste to be directly applied to the skin or wrapped in cloth and tied onto the skin as a compress) and fomentations (mustard packs, castor oil packs that keep a moist pack on the skin).
From The complete Guide to holistic Cat Care By Celeste Yarnall and Dr. Jean Hofve:
Decoction: Strong tea made from tough plants, roots or bark.
Infusion: Strong tea made from leaves or blossoms, letting them steep.
Tincture: Extraction using alcohol or vinegar.
Extract: separation of active ingredient
Poultice: Moist, hot herb pack applied topically.
Materia Medica of a Few Herbs
Aloe - It is totally safe. It is famous for dry itchy skin, wounds, rough skin, burned skin, flea bites. It is also excellent for any digestive disorders - after eating something rough, or to ease constipation or diarrhea. It is also a strong immunostimulant, antioxidant and moderates sugar levels - so used to treat FELV, fibrosarcoma, diabetes and general weakened conditions. Have an aloe plant in your home. It can be bitter for cats, so the "drinkable" gels at the health food store may be better for some animals. The books report it can cause diarrhea, but I have had good success with treating both diarrhea and constipation with Aloe.
Black Walnut - (Wormwood) - This is a very popular anti-parasitic herb. It can be hard on the animal as well as the worm, so it must be used carefully and for short times only according to Tilford and my knowledge. Guzman says it has low toxicity. It has also been used to treat cancer, ringworm, chronic eczema. Tilford recommends not giving for more than 3 days in a row. It is very bitter, so must be given in capsules. Many holistic people recommend it for treating heartworms and other worms.
Alfalfa - It is a totally safe, nutritive herb with lots of chlorophyll that I use to stimulate appetite. It is a diuretic with a lot of Vitamin K which chemical diuretics deplete, relieves urinary and bowel problems, It is used in treating anemia, fatigue, kidneys (helps alkalinize), arthritis, liver, diabetes, reproductive, bleeding problems (high Vitamin K and has coumarin, too) and for building general health. It is great for the brain, too. I see it as a great "senior" tonic. Chlorophyll is great for bad breath, so alfalfa could help there.
Dandelion - This is one of the best plants in the world. It is one of the most complete plant foods on earth for people and animals. It is a rich source of potassium, Vitamin C, K, D, B, niacin, iron, manganese, phosphorous, sterols, flavonoids, carotenoids, and contains more vitamin A than carrots. Dandelion benefits all functions and organs of the body. Dry the leaves and put in the diet. Feed 1 teaspoon dried herb for each 20 # body weight. It clears obstructions (such as stones), detoxifies poisons that gather in the liver (and stimulates bile flow), improves cell metabolism, has a hypoglycemic effect, spleen, and gall bladder and promotes healthy circulation. www.NaturalArk.com says "that the juice from a broken leaf stem can be applied to warts and allowed to dry; used for 3 days or so it will dry up the warts." Also reported by Crellin & Philpott in 1990. Any time there are digestive or absorption issues, try dandelion.
Echinacea - It is a natural antibiotic and immune system stimulator. Tilford gives details on the multifaceted approach Echinacea has to do this. Guzman notes it is the most adulterated product in stores, so be sure you use a good source and the whole plant was used. It helps build resistance to colds and infections, though there is some debate about long term usage. Though totally safe, its strongest effect wanes after 5 days. It should be used in all infections, and has been used in treating cancers and even snake bite Topically it can reduce inflammation, stimulate wound healing and be insecticidal.
Good for fevers, strokes and mouth problems like ulcers.
Garlic - There is much debate on the internet and in veterinary circles about the use of garlic. A few cats developed Heinz body anemia after taking garlic. Guzman says that a 1995 report showed that long term dosages resulted in this Heinz bady anemia. I feel this was a unique weakness, since many garlic products have been on the market for 30 years or more with no problems, often give daily for life. I would say to not use it under 3 months of age or if there is anemia. Keep the amounts less in cats if you add it regularly to the diet. Levy, Guzman and Tilford all recommend it highly for many conditions. It contains protein, fiber, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sodium, vitamin A, thiamine, niacin, taurine, zinc, Sulphur compounds, riboflavin and more. Guzman (Chapter 20 in Wynn's book) says garlic is an excellent antibiotic (1 mg of allicin equals 15 units of penicillin. "Sensitive bacteria include Staph, Strep, Brucells, Bacillus, Vibrio, Klebsiella, Proteus, E. coi, Salmonella, Hafnia, Aeormonas, Citrobacter and Providencia. I suspect many more are affected as well. It is good for cardiovascular system. It is reported by Levy, Guzman, and Tilford to be useful for liver, blood, CV, immune, digestive, skin, pancreas and more. From Gutzman: Albert Schweitzer used garlic against typhus, cholera & typhoid; it is used in eastern medicine as a geriatric tonic; shown effective in preventing cancer of the skin and gastric system; it has antifungal and anti-parasitic properties. Tilford reports studies that it increased killer cell activity threefold in AIDS patients. Truly it is an herb to reach for in any condition. www.NaturalArk.com - "I generally give a capsule of garlic oil in the food once per week. It helps keep the biting insect critters away, and helps keep the immune system healthy."
Ginger - Ginger is excellent for strengthening and stimulating the entire digestive system and the respiratory system. It removes congestion, soothes sore throats, and It is also very effective for motion sickness, diarrhea, vertigo and nausea. It has anti-inflammatory properties so helps arthritis and other pains. Safe.
Goldenseal - Because it is has been over harvested in the wild, Oregon Grape may be a better choice. Tilford says it does not act as an antibiotic, where Guzman says it does and Levy does not even use it. Even though it is found in many products in health food stores I would suggest NOT using it unless purchasing from a company (like Animals' Apawthecary - through my web site - that is doing responsible wild crafting).
Marshmallow - Use instead of Slippery Elm (which kills trees) for soothing and lubricating internal tissues, such as the trachea, bronchial tubes, skin, mouth, urinary tract and digestive tract. There is a possibility of helping diabetes. It has a long history as a medicine. Althea, it's genus, means "to Cure" in Greek. It is an anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory for joints and the digestive system. For internal use, it is best to use the tea or low-alcohol tincture. Chopped fresh root is best for lower end GIT issues. It is totally safe. In the past, the marshmallow root was the main ingredient of the confection now made from cow hoof gelatin - our marshmallow.
The seeds are high in Silymarin. It is excellent for liver (Guzman says it increases the glutathione content of the liver which helps the liver process environmental toxins) and as an antioxidant. Tilford says it is not a totally safe herb and should not be routinely given, rather reserved for times that the liver is under abnormal stress. Guzman says it its safe or may cause loose stools in very high doses.
Tea Tree - This has become very popular in shampoos, dips, sprays and flea control. I suggest not using it on cats as I have seen them get very ill from even a shampoo containing Tea Tree. It is Melaleuca from Australia, now introduced into Florida and invasive. It is considered an antibiotic, fungicide, flea repellant. There are better alternatives. It can be used topically on dog skin problems.
Yucca - Like dandelion, it contains lots of yummy nutrients such as Vitamin D, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, protein and B vitamins. It's healing is due to the saponins. Studies have showed cattle had better weight gain when fed Yucca, chickens laid more eggs and cows had more milk. It reduces the unpleasant urine and stool odors so is often found in pet foods that are causing those unhealthy odors. This may actually be harmful as it suppresses urease. Its main use is to stimulate appetite and help with the pain and inflammation of arthritis.
Repertory of Herbal Uses
(This is from multiple sources - Pitcairn, Frazier, Tilford, Wynn/Guzmann, Levy and personal experience). Tilford has an extensive repertory and would be your best resource. All of Tilford's recipes here need to be accompanied with good diet and possibly other treatments - read his book. You could start with them and they may be enough, but if the problem persists, you need to regroup.
Comfrey to repair aching bones and joints.
Licorice (not the candy)
Willow Bark (not for cats)
Yucca - ½ t (dog) or ¼ t (cat) dried root per pound of food fed daily.
Tilford: 2 parts Alfalfa, 1 part each dandelion root, parsley root and calendula. 1 T per 30 pounds body weight. Tinctures are fine. Add Yarrow if your animal tolerates it.
Levy: rosemary brew; raw parsley and comfrey leaves; boiled nettles.
Echinacea for acute UTI for 5 - 7 days.
Marshmallow root, especially when calculi is present.
Garlic - use raw or extract from reliable source.
Tilford: 3 parts marshmallow root; 1 part each couch grass, nettle, Echinacea, Oregon grape. 1 teaspoon of cooled tea twice a day for dogs; ½ teaspoon for cats.
Cranberry keeps bacteria from adhering to the walls. Feed raw meat diet.
Levy: couch grass infusion made by simmering for ¼ hour in water after bruising the root until only a small amount of liquid remains. It can dissolve stones.
Young birch leaves. Add parsley and carrot to the meat feed. Honey relieves symptoms.
Ginger root extract or fresh ginger can be helpful. Repeat as needed.
Peppermint, catnip, fennel or dill.
Ginkgo imporves blood circulation in the inner ear, so may help if equilibrium is the problem. Valerian, Oatstraw, skullcap, passionflower calm.
Colic in horses
Echinacea - fresh leaves, stems, and flowers.
Tilford recipe: 2 parts dandelion root and marshmallow root, 1 part each Oregon grape, yellow dock and fennel (if gas or pains). 1 teaspoon of the combined teach or 1 ml of tincture per 30 pounds body weight - BIDto TID for dogs. Cats; ¼ to ½ teaspoon BID or TID. Supplement with flaxseed or psyllium husks.
Marshmallow root, especially for dry ones - like kennel cough.
Marshmallow Root is the best.
Tilford: 2 parts plantain (or if severe - slippery elm) and 1 part each of marshmallow, licorice, fennel seed.
Levy: All members of the onion-garlic family, or lemon juice are specific for diarrhea. Fasting is critical. Garlic. Apple juice. Rice Water - 6 tablespoons rice in one and half pints water. Bring to slow boil for two hours, keeping covered. When tepid, add 2 Teaspoons honey and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.
Get garlic and mullein ear drops from the health food store.
Tilford: equal parts Mullein flower, Oregon grape, garlic, marshmallow with 20 drops of Vitamin E.
Eyebright - A strong tea of eyebright, used as a wash, is perfect for irritated eyes on all pets.
Garlic works for some, but not all animals and is in many over the counter products.
Tilford Flea rinse: Cover 1 part each feverfew flowers, mullein flowers, yarrow flowers & leaves & stems, celery seeds freshly ground and 3 parts calendula flowers with boiling water and let stand till cools. Add d. limonene or good essential oil of orange per each 8 ounces of rinse.
You can make an herbal dip: 2 cups packed fresh peppermint, pennyroyal, or rosemary; 1 quart boiling water; 4 quarts warm water - - Prepare an infusion by pouring the boiling water over the herbs and allow it to steep for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid and dilute it with the warm water. Saturate the animal's coat thoroughly with the solution, allowing it to air dry. Use at the first sign of flea activity. This remedy will need to be repeated every three to four days, but it is totally safe. From www.NautralArk.com
Dandelion - great digestive tonic. It stimulates the saliva, bile and stomach acids when a little is given before feeding.
Garlic and Oregon Grape root
Dandelion has many beneficial effects. Gentle and totally safe.
Dandelion flowers are a safer pain killer than aspirin, etc. Make an infusion or dry the flowers and sprinkle on the food.
Dandelion as a diuretic and nutritive.
Aloe for those dry itchy patches.
Echinacea clay poultices.
Marshmallow root for any bites, stings, bacteria, abscesses and ears.
Garlic - may take 1-2 months of treatment.
Green tea, according to the Natural Ark, is good to prevent tarter. Hmmm.
Garlic - Use just enough to impart a mild garlic odor to the oil used (1/2 Clove garlic per 1 oz olive oil)
Fresh aloe (or "drinkable" aloe gel) is an excellent application for cuts and scrapes. It is a natural antiseptic, and seems to support skin healing.